The Gift

As she sat on top of the cliff overlooking the valley, she knew it was the most beautiful day of her life.

Two red-tailed hawks glided on a gentle wind-song, and a couple of quail scurried across the brown-tromped dirt.

A cactus bloomed, the kind that bloomed in early spring here in the desert, where petals were soft and fat and yellow, where thorns grew thin and sharp and tall, but helped make the cactus beautiful, almost surreal. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and the cooling clouds came in and placed a shadowy blanket across everything, cooling the parched land down.  The air was early summer-sweet with the warning of a rain storm.

If the clouds were bright white earlier in the day, now the clouds were gray and plump, and hung heavy. Through the rumbling of the storm yet to be, the hawks continued to sail on the Invisible.

The earth stirred.

It was the most beautiful day of her life.

She thought of her grandmother, and although it had been years ago, memories have a way of coming back and if you’re lucky, you re-live memories in the Now, in the Present, and she saw the many pints of tomato sauce in jars, because her grandmother had been canning all day, and when she came home after school, the house was filled to the brim with deep-August in the kitchen. And here it was again, deep-August in her mind, and she opened her eyes as her grandmother handed her a soft, warm cookie and life was good…so very, very good.

It was the most beautiful day of her life.

She turned around so that her back was to the cliff and three deer were in the scrub bush, grazing.

It was the most beautiful day of her life.

Above, the clouds stirred just a little and a low rumble bellowed, deep, and just like that a mist of rain came down and her hair and face became wet. Instead of searching for shelter, she looked up, up to the heavens and tried her best to watch the rain, to grab the individual rain drops as they came down on her, but it was almost impossible to do.  She smiled and looked up and let herself be immersed in the late spring rain, cleansing her eyes and her heart.

It was the most beautiful day of her life.

She sat in the rain through all of it, and when it was over she laughed, because her clothes were wet yet the sun was struggling through the clouds and steam rose from the rock on which she sat.

It was the most beautiful day of her life.

She thought of her baby, when she was born, and how she felt when she held her the first time, the wonder of what to do with such a child, when all she had known before Emma, as far as loving something that was truly hers, had been horses or birds…she thought of her baby’s grip, strong and fierce, hanging onto her finger and refusing to let go.

It was the most beautiful day of her life.

The day was closing down, changing color, morphing gently into a rhythm of orange and pink and yellow…and the hawks returned and were flying on nothingness again, on a wind current invisible but felt and known and sure. A coyote called from far away, and her heart swelled with anticipation, with the knowing of another adventure.

It was the most beautiful day of her life.

She wanted to know more, but didn’t. Like what was ahead of her…a few feet, a few miles, a few days.

Maybe she did. Maybe…she did not.

As she took her backpack and began the descent down the mountain, she thought she heard something, yet she couldn’t identify it.

She kept walking, thinking, wondering what the million voices were that sounded like harps and doves and hawks and rain and laughter and every sound she ever heard, rolled into one marvelous chorus.

She stopped.

Listened.

Strained her ears to reach out and up and about so she might know what was being said, and who was saying it.

The song she heard was inside her, her own Heartbeat.

The song she heard was outside, her God.

One and the Same.

Angels.

All of this and everything.

A lump formed in her throat. A knowing, a yearning.  Thankfulness.  Knowing-ness.

God showed her Life again. He showed it to her today.  He showed it to her now, and then the angels surrounded her and filled her heart up to not just over-flowing, but to more than enough, filled her up to where her feet seemed to leave the earth and she was going higher, higher, and the stars were millions of diamonds in the black-night sky.

It was the most beautiful day of her life.

There is more…so much more. She wanted more, and there would be…More.

But: Not here.

Not now.

It was the most beautiful day of her Life.

Hold on to the good and live every day. Breathe in the desert’s pulse and let the hawk fill you with awe and wonder.

Don’t let it become common.

Don’t let it become familiar.

Live.

Go forward.

And when the end is coming, you will know it’s not the end, but the beginning.

It was the most beautiful day of her life.

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